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Published on Mar 26, 2007
Landing St.Maarten from cockpit 747. After nosewheel landing camera touched windshield causing crackling noise.
For those viewers who made comments (or new viewers who are thinking about making the comment) that this approach is too high and/or too fast or whatever else you might think, here some "free flying lessons" from someone who's flying B747's for 20 years:
On an approach on instruments a B747 should cross the runway threshold (= the piano keys) with the main wheels at ± 35 ft above threshold. The 747 is so big that at that point the altitude of the cockpit is 35 ft higher, so the cockpit is at ± 70 ft when main wheels cross the threshold. On a visual approach, as is the case here at St.Maarten, we have to have some more margin. Normally the pilot aims to see the runway threshold disappear under the nose at 80 ft (add 35 ft for cockpit height, so when threshold disappears under the nose, the cockpit is at 115 ft) to have sufficient main wheel clearance. If you look at the video and notice the altitude callouts, you'll see the threshold disappear under the nose at the call 50, so actually I am a bit too low in stead of too high. (In fact I am only too low for a visual approach. If you look at my landing at JFK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4YoXy... you will see that I cross the threshold also at 50 ft, which is normal on an instrument approach. Note: the automatic altitude callouts you hear on this video are Radio Altimeter altitudes. The Radio Alt is zero when the main gear is on the ground with struts extended.)
Now, there are quite some viewers who think we landed too far on the runway. What follows from earlier explanation is this: We approach a runway at a three degrees approach angle. If main wheels cross the threshold at the correct altitude, the main wheels will hit the runway at approx 900ft (300m) behind the threshold, that is, if you don't flare the airplane. If you look again at the video and wait till you hear 50,40,30,20,10 and see the solid white markers, they are at 900ft behind the threshold and the plane touches down right behind them, because I did flare the airplane. (Passengers seem to hate hard landings!!) THIS IS THE NORMAL TOUCHDOWN POINT FOR A B747. The FCTM(=Flight Crew Training Manual) from Boeing says: flare distance is approx 300 to 600mtr (=900 to 1800ft) beyond the threshold.
So, please, stop nagging about this landing being too far on the runway.
And then something about too fast: On this approach the 747 weighs about 260.000 kgs. The required approach speed is then 150 kts which is about 175 mph or 280 km/hr. So what about TOO FAST? If we fly slower, we will fall out of the air!!